Headlamps are great. But if you’re going to be outdoors and need something handy, there is no substitute for a flashlight. A good model comes with a strong beam and you can control the amount of light with precision.
Plus, if you are on a camping trip, you’re going to need something that can be taken along or set on the side while you finish a task. Thanks to companies focussing on building battery efficiency models, you have a great set of choices in the market. And, over time, they have gotten smaller, brighter and lighter. Let’s see what’s in store.
Our Top Choices For The Best 18650 Flashlight
In this post, we look at the best budget flashlight, the best one in the premium range and of course, the best overall flashlight for your mobile needs. Here’s how they fare.
In a hurry? Here’s our top 3 contenders
Best Overall: Fenix TK22UE Ultimate Edition Rechargeable Tactical Flashlight
This is the best flashlight for those who want something good but don’t want to splurge. The Fenix TK22UE comes with maximum output and can throw a beam that goes almost 450 yards.
The box also comes with a high-capacity rechargeable 21700 battery that shines bright for two hours even on turbo mode. Its maximum output is a bright 1600 lumens and it has a tail switch that enables you to switch it on momentarily or continuously.
You can also switch between four brightness levels and there is a strobe feature which can be helpful if you get separated from your group.
It has tungsten impact tips if you need to break a glass in an emergency situation.
The flashlight bezel is made of durable crenulated steel and is waterproof and impact resistant. And whether you’re at -31 degrees or 113 degrees Fahrenheit, it works just fine.
It is less than six inches long which makes it light to carry around. You also get an adjustable holster and a carry clip with the set. There is an adapter sleeve to store a spare.
You will also find included, a 5,000mAh Lithium-ion battery that can be charged with a USB-C cable which is included.
- The LED lights are Luminus SST40
- Maximum Brightness: 1600 lumens
- Peak Beam Distance: 443 yards
- Peak Beam Intensity: 41133 cd
- Impact Resistance: 1 meter
- At its highest setting, it can run for two hours 10 minutes on Turbo, 4 hours 40 minutes on high, 17 hours on mid-level brightness, 80 hours on low-level brightness,
- Dimensions: 5.91 x 1.57 x 1 inches (L x W x H)
- Weight: 5.29 ounces
- Has an all-metal construction
- Waterproof and impact resistant
- Comes with instant strobe
- The on/off switch is in the middle and easily accessible by the thumb
- Comes with the accessories for USB charging and a carry case
- Could not find any.
Best Premium: SureFire Fury Intellibeam
Our second choice is a versatile searchlight that fits neatly in your pocket. You can either use one economical 18650 lithium-ion rechargeable battery or two 123A lithium batteries to power it.
Its output range is 15-1500 lumens if you are using the 18650 lithium-ion rechargeable battery and 15-1100 lumens if you’re on two 123A lithium batteries.
Using a sensor and a microprocessor, this flashlight can automatically adjust light output depending on your conditions, much like the brightness settings on laptop screens and monitors. Of course, you can turn it off and adjust the brightness yourself with a flick on the tail cap.
The flashlight is capable of running for 40 hours and produces a smooth beam the whole time. The body is made of aircraft-grade aluminum which is high quality. There is a tail cap to make sure you have a good grip. And to fight corrosion and abrasions, it is hard anodized.
- Can auto-adjust light according to the surroundings with a sensor and microchip.
- Light Capacity: 15 to 1,500 lumens
- Light Output: High-performance LED
- Comes with a parabolic reflector for smooth beam and surround light
- Works on two 123A lithium batteries or one 18650 lithium-ion rechargeable battery.
- Enables momentary switch on or constant on.
- Made of lightweight aerospace-aluminum with a secure grip.
- It is extremely resistant to abrasions and corrosion.
- Can be switched on momentarily or constantly
- Has a sensor to adjust brightness automatically
- Made of durable aluminum
- Resistant to corrosion and abrasions
- A bit too powerful when beamed at full capacity
- The run time on a single battery is not as impressive
Best Budget: Sofirn SP32A V2.0 18650 Flashlight High
And finally, here is a flashlight that emits soft neutral white light and is made for those who like to be on a budget. This is an SP32A V.20 from Sofirn which, at 3-1300 lumens is really bright for daily use.
This model has an upgraded inner design and is pocket friendly. It has two groups with group one having six modes ranging from economy, low, mid, high, turbo and strobe.
Group two is all about taking the levels up and down. Whether you’re out walking your dog or trying to find your keys indoors when there is no light, this is a great gadget to have. And of course, taking it with you on a camping or hiking trip is a given.
It is designed smartly with a power indicator that is green when all is well and flashes red when it’s time to replace the battery. It is also protected from overheating and enhances the experience.
There is a stainless steel clip on its body with an anti-slip finish so that you can hold it well. It can also stand on a tail which makes it an excellent substitute for an emergency lamp.
Along with the flashlight, you get a micro USB cable, a USB cable and charging slot, a sealed 18650 3,000 mAh battery and an 18-month warranty card. It has been tested on the field in Germany and performed well on a search and rescue mission.
- Light Emitter: Cree XP-L 2 LED
- Tint: 6000K
- Power: One 18650 battery
- Impact Resistance: 1 meter
- Light Group 1: multi-modes: Economy (5 lumens), low (50 lumens), medium (160 lumens), high (500 lumens)
- For turbo mode which is 1300 lumens, double click, and for strobe mode which is 1300 lumens, triple-click.
- Light Group 2 is for ramping; the range is from 5-1300 lumens.
- Hold and press the switch for three seconds in any mode to switch between groups. If it blinked twice, it worked.
- Comes with a memory function.
- In the Box: SP32A torch, 18650 battery, USB charger, O-rings; lanyard, and an instruction manual.
- Sturdy design
- Different light groups with multiple modes
- Has both momentary and constant switch-on features
- Comes with a memory function
- Does not have an electronic lockout feature.
- The color temperature can be a bit too cool.
If this is your first time purchasing a 18650 flashlight, you will need to know a few things before you narrow down your choices. Here’s a small guide to help you get there.
What Kind of Beam Distance Do I Need for Home Defense?
A lot of people want a flashlight by their side for self-defense purposes. And that makes sense, right? Lumen is the unit of light that is used to measure the brightness of, in this case, flashlights.
Any good model should have at least 60 lumens. But if you want to make sure you have a good one, look for a flashlight that has at least 120 lumens.
That is just the starting point.
It will not only help illuminate a certain dark region but can also be used to temporarily make your attacker blind and give you the chance to escape. If you aim for a flashlight that can go brighter, your chances of escape get better.
However, there is a critical point to remember. When the flashlight is at its brightest, it consumes a good chunk of the battery. It is also going to get heavier, which means you need to start thinking about how you’ll carry it.
And holding on to one of those when you’re on the run from danger is something to think about. Pick a model that is not only bright but also light and easy to shove in your pocket. You also want to buy something that is waterproof and scratch resistant because if you’re running and nervous, you don’t want it to fall on rough terrain or in the water and die on you.
How Do I Use a Tactical Flashlight For Self Defence When I’m Unarmed?
Once you buy a good tactical flashlight, you need to spend a couple of minutes figuring out some obviously risky scenarios and how you’re going to use it to your advantage.
You probably have this in your bag or your pocket. Let’s say it’s late at night and you’re walking down a dark-ish alley. You need to make sure you are prepared for trouble. This means you must keep one hand on the flashlight with your thumb ready to switch it on.
If it is a new flashlight, make sure you familiarize yourselves with the switches so that come the moment, you can blind your would-be attacker with its brightest emission.
The idea is to momentarily disorient your attacker so that you can run. This is for individuals who have no tactical training and are likely to be unarmed.
If you need to, you can also use the butt of the flashlight, often a toothed bezel, to incapacitate them for a short period of time. A kick on the head or the groin and knees are all practical options.
If you are holding a gun but don’t really intend to use it, you must figure out how to use the combination to get away from the assailant. Align them both in a way that you can see what is in front of you and make a quick decision on whether they are a real threat. There is nothing worse than a premature shooting when there is no real danger.
What Do I Look for in The Best 18650 Flashlights?
This is the description of a tactical flashlight that runs on a 18650 lithium-ion battery. There is a range of these products in the market and the choice comes down not just to price. A cheap flashlight can conk off exactly when you need it to work. So here are a few things to keep in mind.
Aircraft Grade Aluminum Is Best
Flashlights are a mobile product. So, they need to be light and compact. But they must also be made of sturdy metal because you are highly likely to drop them a couple of times whether you have butterfingers or not.
Look for a flashlight made of something strong like aircraft-grade aluminum or titanium. There should also be a water-resistant seal that protects the insides of the flashlight.
18650 Li ion Batteries
This is a rechargeable battery. But make sure the manufacturer provides you with the accessories to charge it easily. That includes a USB cord and a 18650 charger adapter.
There are different types in this variety. So, get a high-capacity 18650 battery so that it is 4x times more powerful than an AA battery. The flashlights in the market that use 18650 batteries are some of the brightest choices. So, expect the product to be a bit bulky though not too much. Check out the features and power of each model that uses this battery.
If you can get a flashlight that accommodates multiple 18650s, you get more power in your pocket. The generation of LEDs used in these flashlights is also something to note. As it should be, look for the latest.
Is 18650 the Same as CR123?
The CR123 is another popular battery model. It is not the same as 18650. In fact, the differences are many. Make sure that you don’t let any spare batteries roll around, keep them in a proper battery organizer to prolong their life. The 18650 battery is rechargeable and not single use which gives their accumulators larger capacity.
It is often the primary battery and can be easily recharged even when you are on the move. You might like to check our post regarding the best 18650 battery chargers here.
It is the same length as two CR123 batteries which means you can interchange the two. Unlike the CR 123 model, the 18650 batteries have good size to capacity ratio.
Their discharge is high and they are superior to the other batteries of the same size. But they need to be stored in Eden protection boxes when you are not using them. The CR123 batteries, on the other hand, can be stored for about 10 years which makes them good emergency backup batteries. It is advisable to have a battery tester on hand to check the state of your batteries. Choose a model that can test 18650 batteries and CR123 batteries.
But a critical difference between the two is that 18650 batteries are not great to operate in sub-zero temperatures. The CR123 batteries have no such trouble. If you want to figure out the runtime of a flashlight based on the battery they use, you must look for the flashlight’s mAh ratings.
Is an 18650 Battery the Same as AA?
When it comes to camping gear, there is a lot of debate on this subject. Ideally, your flashlight must be powered by the battery they recommend because batteries emit different levels of electricity.
Mixing and matching may lead to problems like overheating, leaking of the battery and even causing the flashlights to explode.
While this is an apples versus oranges kind of comparison, there are a few points to note. The fundamental difference between these two models is that 18650 batteries are lithium-ion and rechargeable.
AA batteries are made of many combinations. They can be nickel cadmium, alkaline, zinc carbon and sometimes, lithium-ion too. 18650 batteries are 18 x 65 mm and AA batteries are 14 x 50 mm. So the latter is also referred to as 14500 batteries.
As mentioned before, an 18650 is about four times more powerful than three or four standard AA batteries. It has a higher voltage and its output can give you more watt-hours.
The AA batteries with the highest capacity have 2,850 mAh and can be recharged too. They are cheap and have a good range. But some 18650 batteries have ten times the ability of a standard AA battery.
The 18650 batteries also have more energy density which is how you measure the amount of energy in a battery. It is reported in watt-hours. You can calculate this yourself by multiplying the mAh rating with the nominal voltage and dividing the result by 1,000. Size, though, remains the biggest visual difference between these two models.
There are many reasons to get a flashlight. Whether you want a backup light at home for those sudden power grid failures or a handy tool for those occasional camping trips or to blind an assailant on a dark alley, a good 18650 flashlight can do a lot. Having one on your side is a great idea, once you pick a good product.
Last update on 2023-06-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API